Whats The Difference Between Hepatitis A B And C
Youve probably seen stories in the news about hepatitis A outbreaks linked to infected restaurant workers, or how a rising rate of hepatitis C infections is causing increased health care costs.
But you might not know the difference between hepatitis A, B and C, or why you should be concerned about them.
Heres why: Hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, affects more than 50,000 new people each year and is a leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates as many as 6 million people in the U.S. are living with hepatitis.
Having hepatitis can be dangerous and uncomfortable. Symptoms are similar for hepatitis A, B and C and may include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, gray-colored stools, joint pain and jaundice . Even worse, chronic hepatitis often has no symptoms, and people dont know theyre infected until they get very sick.
What Is Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is the most common blood borne virus in the USA. It is considered to be the most serious of the hepatitis viruses. Once exposed, the majority of people go on to develop chronic hepatitis C. Many people do not develop symptoms until serious liver damage occurs, which may take several decades to occur. Those who do experience early onset symptoms usually complain of fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and digestive upsets. Jaundice is not a common finding in hepatitis C. Over time, as the liver develops more and more fibrosis, symptoms may include easy bruising, ascites , hemorrhaging, and encephalopathy .
What Are The Risk Factors
Some people are at an increased risk for contracting HAV, including:
- people traveling to areas of the world where hepatitis A is common
- men who have sex with men
- people who use injectable or noninjectable drugs
- caregivers for those who have hepatitis A
- people who are experiencing homelessness
- people living with a child whos been adopted from an area where hepatitis A is common
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How Is Hepatitis Contracted
Hepatitis A is most commonly transmitted via the fecal-oral route. You can contract hepatitis A by either ingesting contaminated water or food, or by person-to-person contactespecially if the other person has been handling contaminated foods and has not washed their hands effectively, said Zappas, who cites raw or undercooked seafood from contaminated water sources and raw produce as common contaminants. Additionally, she said, hepatitis A may in rare cases be transmitted sexually, in relation to fecal-oral contact.
Hepatitis B can be transmitted perinatally or via sexual contact. It can be contracted through contact with a number of bodily fluids including blood, semen, vaginal secretions, breast milk and more. Hepatitis C is also commonly transmitted via IV drug use, sexual or household contact. It can be contracted by having unprotected sex with an infected partner, through sharing needles, syringes or razor blades, or perinatallyfrom an infected pregnant woman to her child, Zappas said.
How To Protect Yourself Against Hepatitis A
There is an effective vaccine against hepatitis A that is recommended for all children at age 1. However, most adults probably have not received it because the vaccine wasnt required when they were young. Dr. Fried says you can come in contact with the hepatitis A infection pretty much anywhere, so its a good idea for everyone older than 1 to get the vaccine, whether or not theyve had any known exposure or traveled to regions where hepatitis A is common.
In addition to getting vaccinated, you should wash your hands every time you go to the bathroom and before handling or serving food or drinks. Also be sure to wash and rinse raw produce before eating or serving it. Cooking raw produce further reduces the risk of infection.
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How Is It Treated
Hepatitis A is treated using supportive methods. These can include things like rest, fluids, and healthy foods. Medications can also help to ease some symptoms like fever, aches, and pains.
Theres a vaccine available to protect against infection with HAV. This is typically recommended for children as well as for people at an increased risk for contracting the virus.
Also, receiving a single dose of the hepatitis A vaccine may prevent you from becoming ill if youve been exposed to HAV. For it to be effective, the vaccine needs to be given of exposure.
Differences Between Hepatitis And Cirrhosis
There are many important differences between hepatitis and cirrhosis, even when they may have the same cause.
- Reversibility. By definition, cirrhosis is irreversible, whereas hepatitis may be completely reversible depending on the cause.
- Blood tests.Liver enzymes are often very elevated with hepatitis, especially acute hepatitis. With cirrhosis, however, at least in the early stages, liver function tests may be only slightly abnormal.
- Conditions other than hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis. For example, hemochromatosis, alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, and more can lead to cirrhosis.
- Treatments. With hepatitis, the goal is usually to alleviate the diseasefor example, treat the infection, remove a drug causing drug-related hepatitis, or decrease weight and increase metabolism with NASH. With cirrhosis, the scarring is permanent and cannot be treated. Therefore, the goal is to treat symptoms related to cirrhosis and to prevent any further liver injury.
- Symptoms. Portal hypertension leading to esophageal varices, an enlarged spleen, a low platelet count, and a low protein level in the blood are more common with cirrhosis than with hepatitis.
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How Are Hepatitis B And C Diagnosed
Hepatitis B is diagnosed by a series of blood tests. The test may show an ongoing infection or antibodies that indicate that the patient is protected against hepatitis B. In patients who have a positive screening test that suggests the possibility of ongoing infection, further testing is done to determine the levels of the virus in the bloodstream.
Hepatitis C is diagnosed via a blood test called a Hepatitis C Antibody Test. A positive result means that hepatitis C antibodies are present in the blood. But a positive antibody test doesnt necessarily mean a person has hepatitis C. A further blood test is needed to confirm the diagnosis. This second blood test quantifies the amount of the virus or the viral load in the liver and the bloodstream.
What Is The Most Common Strain Of Hepatitis And Who Is Most At Risk Of Contracting It
Hepatitis C is the most common strain, with 71 million peopleworldwide suffering from chronic cases. According to Zappas, some 75 percentof people with hepatitis C in the U.S. are baby boomers, born between 1945 and 1965. Additionally, patients with HIV are at higher risk of contracting hepatitis C, the infection occurring in nearly 25 percent of patients who are HIV-positive, and up to 90 percent of HIV-positive injection drug users.
Hepatitis B may be more prevalent among certain demographics, such as in Asian/Pacific Islander populations, Zappas said. Those who engage in regular physical or sexual contact with an infected patient are at higher risk of contracting the infection themselves, since both hepatitis B and C are transmitted via blood and bodily fluids.
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How Are Hepatitis B And C Treated
Hepatitis B: Not all patients with chronic hepatitis B infection require treatment. At Yale Medicine, specialists decide on an individual basis whether a patient is an appropriate candidate for treatment. Generally, patients require treatment when their hepatitis B virus level is high, and when laboratory tests demonstrate significant inflammation or injury to the liver.
There are currently seven approved drugs for hepatitis B, two of which are considered to be first-line treatments. These drugs are oral pills taken once daily, and while they’re very effective at suppressing the virus to very low or undetectable levels over the long term, they are not considered curative.
Therefore, the goal of treatment is to control the virus long-term and decrease the risk of hepatitis B related complications such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Hepatitis C: For the greater part of the last 20 years, treatment of hepatitis C required the use of a chemotherapy-like injection drug called interferon, which has been associated with serious side effects and a low cure rate. Fortunately, advances in hepatitis C treatments within the last three years now allow for the use of oral medications that are significant improvements in terms of safety and effectiveness.
What Is The Difference Between Hepatitis A And Hepatitis B
You’ve undoubtedly heard hepatitis A and B mentioned many times before. Whether it was by watching the news, reading a headline, or overhearing a coworker say they had it in the past, it’s an unavoidable topic. But you may not really know what hepatitis A and B are, how dangerous they can be, who’s most at risk, or how you can protect yourself. Let’s look at the specifics so you have the facts to help keep yourself healthy year-round.
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Hepatitis C And The Hep C Virus
Hepatitis C is a liver infection that can lead to serious liver damage. Its caused by the hepatitis C virus. About 2.4 million people in the U.S. have the disease. But it causes few symptoms, so most of them don’t know. The virus spreads through an infected persons blood or body fluids.
There are many forms of the hepatitis C virus, or HCV. The most common in the U.S. is type 1. None is more serious than any other, but they respond differently to treatment.
What Is Hepatitis A
The virus may cause a mild illness with few symptoms, or it may cause a person to feel seriously ill. Symptoms often include nausea, pain in upper right quadrant of the abdomen, fever, joint pain, loss of appetite, and jaundice. Some people feel better after a very short illness, while others may stay extremely ill for many weeks.
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How Does It Affect The Body
The incubation period for hepatitis B can range from . However, not everyone who has acute hepatitis B will experience symptoms.
About 95 percent of adults completely recover from hepatitis B. However, hepatitis B can also become chronic.
The risk of chronic hepatitis B is greatest in those who were exposed to HBV as young children. Many people with chronic hepatitis B dont have symptoms until significant liver damage has occurred.
In some people whove had hepatitis B, the virus can reactivate later on. When this happens, symptoms and liver damage may occur. People with a weakened immune system and those being treated for hepatitis C are at a higher risk for HBV reactivation.
General Symptoms Of Liver Diseases
Liver disease symptoms may be present with hepatitis, cirrhosis, or any other conditions that result in dysfunction of or damage to the liver. These may include:
More symptoms of acute hepatitis are possible, including bleeding gums, edema in your legs, sleep reversal and other sleep disorders, and loss of consciousness.
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Hepatitis B Virus Antigens And Antibodies
The Structure of Hepatitis B Virus
The hepatitis B virus is a small DNA virus with unusual features similar to retroviruses, which is a prototype virus of the Hepadnaviridae family. HBV causes acute and chronic hepatitis in humans. The hepatitis B virus consists of an outer lipid envelope and an icosahedral nucleocapsid core composed of protein. The virus is one of the smallest enveloped animal viruses with a virion diameter of 42 nm, and also named Dane particles. Dane particles contains both envelope and core.
The outer envelope contains embedded proteins which are involved in viral binding of susceptible cells. There are three types of proteins: small hepatitis surface proteins, middle hepatitis surface proteins and large hepatitis surface proteins, they are totally composed of hepatitis B surface proteins. The nucleocapsid encloses the viral DNA and a DNA polymerase that has reverse transcriptase activity.
There are three types of Hepatitis B Virus particles in infectious serum by electron microscopy, Dane particles, filamentous particles and spherical particles. Except for Dane particles , there also exist pleomorphic forms, as filamentous particles and spherical particles .
Hepatitis B Virus Antigens
Hepatitis B core antigen-HBcAg
Hepatitis B e antigen-HBeAg
The X gene codes for HBxAg. The product of the X gene is hepatitis B x antigen . It may be involved in carcinogenesis.
Hepatitis B Virus Antibodies
Is Hepatitis Testing Recommended For People With Hiv
Yes. Everyone living with HIV should be tested for HBV and HCV when they are first diagnosed with HIV and begin treatment. People living with HIV who have ongoing risk factors for getting hepatitis B or hepatitis C should be tested annually.
In addition, new HCV screening recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call for:
- One-time screening for all adults 18 years and older
- Screening of all pregnant women during every pregnancy
- Testing for all persons with risk factors, with testing continued periodic testing those with ongoing risk.
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Do You Know The Differences Between Hepatitis A B And C
Hepatitis is a general term for inflammation of the liver. Some chronic forms may cause lasting damage to the liver and can lead to serious long-term health effects, and in some cases, death. In fact, The World Health Organization estimatesthat deaths resulting from hepatitis have increased 22 percent since 2000.
Michelle P. Zappas, DNP, FNP, clinical associate professor and family nurse practitioner in the Department of Nursing at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, answers frequently asked questions about the differences between the main forms of viral hepatitisA, B and Cand how to reduce your risk of infection.
What Are Hep C Side Effects
Untreated, hepatitis C may cause patients to progress to cirrhosis and possibly liver failure, and/or develop liver cancer, called hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatitis C is the main reason for adult liver transplantation in the United States. Recently, direct-acting antivirals have become available and are curing over 90% of previously difficult to treat genotype 1 patients. There is also no immunity conferred on patients who are cured, meaning that they may get the virus again if they come in contact with infected blood. There is NO preventative vaccine for hepatitis C.1,2,3
Have questions about symptoms? Community members have answers.
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Is There A Cure For Hepatitis
According to Zappas, there is no technical cure for viral hepatitis, and antibodies will always test positive in a patient who has experienced hepatitis A, B or C. The management of chronic hepatitis B is complex and based on a myriad of factors. Some patients manage their condition with long-term antiviral medications.
However, vaccinations for hepatitis A and B have proven highly effective. Hepatitis A and B vaccinations are recommended and routinely done in infancy, Zappas affirmed. Most people respond to these vaccinations, but post-vaccination testing may be indicated in high-risk patients.
The outlook is even brighter when it comes to hepatitis C: Over the last 10 years, the hepatitis C treatment regimens have evolved, Zappas said. Now, theres nearly a 90% cure rate with certain antiviral medications, which can eradicate the replication of the hepatitis C RNA and therefore abate the damage of the virus on the liver. It is important to note that patients are not immune to hepatitis C after treatment, and can be reinfected and/or contract another strain.
To measure the effects, providers look for a sustained virologic response indicating that the virus remains inactive, which is evaluated between 12 and 24 weeks after beginning the medication.
To reference the work of our faculty online, we ask that you directly quote their work where possible and attribute it to “FACULTY NAME, a professor in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work
What’s The Difference Between Hepatitis A B And C
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver and is often caused by a virus, which comes in different strains. The most common strains of hepatitis are Hepatitis A, B, and C.
Hepatitis A,B, and C, like all viruses, are contagious, but they differ mainly by the way they are spread, says Stella Badalova, PharmD, Director of Healthcare Relations and Clinical Development at Medly Pharmacy. Hepatitis B and C virus infections can become lifelong infections while Hepatitis A does not. There are vaccines to prevent hepatitis A and B only.
The World Health Organization estimates that in 2015, 257 million people globally suffered from Hepatitis B, while 71 million people worldwide suffered from Hepatitis C. Both of these types of hepatitis may cause lifelong infection according to WHO, in 2015 1.34 million people died from liver cancer, cirrhosis, and other conditions caused by chronic viral hepatitis.
Viral hepatitis symptoms are similar no matter which type of hepatitis you have and include the following:
Jaundice FeverLoss of appetiteFatigueDark urineJoint painAbdominal painDiarrheaNauseaVomiting
For all types of viral hepatitis, symptoms are less common in children than in adults, and people of any age with a Hepatitis C viral infection are less likely to experience symptoms.Hepatitis A
Safe and effective vaccines have been available in the US since 1995 to help prevent HAV transmission.